New poetry by Christine Moretto Wishnoff
A chalk message
Spells out contention,
#BLM on SF retaining wall
Tempered lines of white control.
Where is the outrage
When chalk lines go DOA?
A child’s fairytale:
All will end well
Outlined in rainbow.
Disturbance on private property
When barbarism holds the lease.
Maligns with good intention.
All the shades of brown and black
Moved to the back of the 64 pack.
Crayola must have had a reason
To make “flesh” a color for all seasons.
New poetry by Kayla Sargeson
Two Women at a Bus Stop
The one in brown boots stands
on tip toes to kiss the other.
For a second I’m in love with their tenderness,
the way the one in brown boots looks at the other,
the smiles on their faces when their lips part.
What about their bodies?
In bed, which one is more rough,
which one starts bleeding first?
It’s been almost four years, but I still remember
Izzy’s fingers inside me,
her woman-mouth on my nipple.
No one knows the secrets between us,
her hands covered in my woman-blood.
When the bus comes, the woman
in the brown boots gets on fist.
Her lover behind her carries a duffel bag.
I can’t tell which one of them I love,
want to be.
I follow them.
When the bus gets to Fifth and Halket,
my red-tipped fingers reach for the bus cord.
New poem by Holly Day
It’s strange how we all have so many of the same parts inside of us.
We have lungs and a heart just like a squirrel’s, a digestive system that looks
indistinguishable from a pig’s. If you were to gut a pig and a man next to one another
in the morning, you wouldn’t be able to tell which pool of rusty-red dried blood
came from which creature. If you slit a goat or a dog or a rabbit from neck to navel
all of the organs fall out in the same sort of bundle, just a different-sized bundle.
I don’t know what I’m telling you this for, but you decided
that the empty seat next to me was some sort of invitation to conversation.
If you don’t want to talk about the things I like talking about, perhaps
you should find another drinking companion.
I could tell you something about the steer that lost his hide
to make these leather pants I’m wearing, tell you all about the things
that lived in the trees cut down
to make this here bar we’re drinking at,
but I can tell you’re the type of guy who likes simpler stories than these.
New poetry by Nicolette Hylan-King
I’m sorry, but this office was
never intended for lactation.
This is a firm, not a farm.
You’re an editor, not a dairy cow.
The plexiglass walls were meant
to spread natural light,
not to shield leaking breasts.
The law requires me to hand you this key
to a private space downstairs
where you can do whatever it is you need to do,
but please, spare us the details.
This office was built for production,
Why are you back so soon, anyhow?
Doesn’t HR offer maternity leave?
And no, you can’t work from home
two days a week.
That wouldn’t be fair to your colleagues
who didn’t just push a human being
out of their bodies,
now would it?
I’m glad you understand.
It’s nothing personal, really.
We’re all family here.
Mediocre Professional of the Year
I want to be known for professional
Dashing for the door at 4:58 sharp,
not apologizing for delayed responses
unflapped when quarterly earnings
hit record lows.
And when I am named Mediocre Professional of the Year,
please, keep the plaque.
I like my walls clear
like my headspace.
New poem by Linda M. Crate
i am angry
that all these years later
i still remember and think about
what you’ve done,
of how everyone thinks you’re a good man
despite the fact i know you’re not;
you tried to force yourself
when we were but kids—
& later in college when i thought i was
finally recovering from the trauma of not being
able to trust anyone,
you found me;
and you smirked at me saying,
“i bet you don’t remember me”
knowing full well that i did as i froze unable
to move or speak
eyes wide in horror as i saw you
someone i thought i would never have to see
they say you’re a good man,
but i know better;
any time someone says a person is a good man
i don’t trust them because good men are introduced
by their character not everyone assuring one another
the other person means no harm—
i don’t know why people deny there are predators
it’s as if they don’t want to more closely examine
their friends and kin.
New poem by Tara Menon
You’re hurting because the boy
didn’t say much to you.
The dinner was just a pretense.
We all knew you’d be sizing each other up,
you, an Indian-American,
and he, an Indian who’d become Americanized.
Sparks didn’t fly,
though you and he had every reason
to like each other.
You’re smart, charming, and friendly,
and he’s handsome, sweet, and reserved.
He shouldn’t have remained tongue-tied.
Ten minutes was all it took
for me to know the evening wasn’t going anywhere.
Jane Austen warned me
about the perils of match-making in Emma,
but I didn’t listen to her authoritative voice.
She knew men and women so well
and human nature hasn’t changed three centuries later
in any of the continents.
She’s still highly regarded,
the spinster writer, who was engaged
for less than twenty-four hours.
Like Emma, I’ve brought myself
a notch or two down in self-esteem,
and I need to make amends to you, my Harriet.
You are not really like that fictional Harriet Smith,
but a bright, promising young woman.
I just hope you never lose that confidence
that you wear so well.
As for me, perhaps I should retire from this business,
but I’ll try once more for your sake.
New poem by Teresa G. Stankiewicz
She screams in the deep still night.
Her pain grips her in a suffocating hold.
She is lonely, emptiness is all around her.
She feels like a tiny moth left out in the dark. She can’t attempt the light.
It looks like a round moon drawing her closer, closer in a hypnotizing trance.
Still she is motionless.
I must get up. I must reach my wings and flutter.
Still she is motionless.
I can see others fall to the ground. Do we all?
New poem by Elinor Clark
Oh strange, spiky plant.
Though stunted, you still stretch upwards,
Desperately digging in roots.
But with each growth remember the tub that you’re held in.
Nowhere to go.
Thick, plastic looking skin
Inflicted with some serious malady.
Will scare anyone away.
Put the spikes up.
Pretend that’s what you want.
A Throwback Thursday piece by Yvonne Jayne, originally published July 2014.
I am shaped by her thought of me,
I am named in her dreams,
Baptized by her vision of me
And born into her likeness.
I am shattered by her disappointments
I cry for her lost life,
I fall in her vacuum and
I flail in her failures.
I am driven by her dreams,
I am powered by her regrets,
She is capsized by the curse
Of her marriage to a madman.
I am rocked by his rages
Storms in the long night,
His genius beats against his bars
I am shattered by his disappointments.
I am unsteady, rising to the sun,
I am called in visions
To express what is sinking,
Back to the core of me again.
I am unheard in my expression
Struggling to have a voice,
I am told to stop being dramatic
And make obedience my choice.
I am shattered by their disappointments
Drowning in their struggles,
Each is the enemy of the other
Storms in the long night.
A new poem by Harley Claes.
I think I can only sleep next to you in sex trance
when the veil is fresh from sociopath
and the smile sweet from narcissus
when I’m lucid you’re but a monster with the urge to
choke out the docile
in every woman and mother that is not she, your great
love and captor
your long lost blood line
fleeting and finicky
dependent and long foreseen
knowing if she could see
she would be ashamed